Left to right: Zeynep Madak Erdogan, CCIL Associate Director for Translation & Development Tim Fan, Erik Nelson, CCIL Director Rohit Bhargava, Kim Selting, Sayeepriyadarshini Anakk, Cecilia Leal

Members of the Cancer Center at Illinois’ inaugural Faculty Leadership Development Program (FLDP) Cohort have graduated after starting their journey in 2020.

The FLDP fosters leaders and develops a plan for succession within the Cancer Center at Illinois (CCIL). Members of the first cohort learned about leadership and building successful programs through a series of seminars. They met with members of the CCIL and broader Illinois campus and connected with the National Cancer Institute’s Director of Comparative Oncology. Cohort members also developed a cancer-based project and were paired with a mentor from the CCIL leadership team to deepen their experience.

Organizers initially planned FLDP to be a one-year program, but it’s been extended to two years so the cohort can dive into both theoretical and practical aspects of leadership development.

“The program is designed to be agile,” said Margaret Browne Huntt, CCIL Assistant Director for Strategic Research Initiatives and Chief Diversity Officer. “We developed FLDP to address and identify who the next generation of leaders could potentially be. We wanted to start small and figure out the ebbs and flows of what the program would look like. These five individuals represent a cross-section of our programs, as well as represent diversity. Diversity is at the core of the program’s design.”

CCIL leadership will announce the next cohort at the CCIL Annual Retreat on October 17.

Inaugural Cohort Members

Sayeepriyadarshini Anakk is an Associate Professor of Molecular & Integrative Physiology. Anakk is also a co-lead of the CCIL’s Cancer & Microbes Working Group.

Zeynep Madak Erdogan

Zeynep Madak Erdogan is an Associate Professor of Nutrition and the Director of the Women’s Health, Hormones, and Nutrition Lab. In August, she took on the role of CCIL Associate Director for Education.

Cecelia Leal Headshot

Cecilia Leal is an Associate Professor of Materials Science & Engineering. She is also a mentor in the CCIL’s TiME program.

Erik Nelson

Erik Nelson is an Associate Professor of Molecular & Integrative Physiology. In August, he became the CCIL’s Cancer Discovery Platforms (CDP) Program Leader.

Image of Kim Selting

Kim Selting is an Associate Professor of Clinical Veterinary Medicine and veterinary radiation oncologist.


Upon completion of the FLDP program, Drs. Leal, Nelson, and Selting assumed a leadership role in the new CCIL Breakthrough Engineering and Advanced Treatment of Cancer Initiative (BEAT Cancer Initiative). In this new role, they will serve on the BEAT Cancer Initiative Scientific Committee.


Written by Jessica Clegg, CCIL Communications Team